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Sage Companion Planting Guide: 5 Plants to Pair With Sage

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Apr 24, 2020 • 3 min read

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When planting a vegetable garden, don't overlook sage's potential as a growth stimulator, natural form of pest control, and a means of attracting pollinators.

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Community activist and self-taught gardener Ron Finley shows you how to garden in any space, nurture your plants, and grow your own food.

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What Is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is a time-tested gardening method that enriches and protects vulnerable crops. Farmers and gardeners plant specific crops near each other in order to deter pests, attract beneficial insects, and stimulate growth.

What Are the Benefits of Companion Planting?

Companion plants will either help a specific crop grow or will grow better beside a specific crop, and can do many support jobs in the garden:

  1. Repel insect pests. Cabbage worms, cucumber beetles, Mexican bean beetles, carrot flies, cabbage moths—all kinds of pests can plague vegetable gardens. Many companion plants (like marigold flowers, catnip, and rue) repel specific pests and should be planted near certain crops to keep them pest-free.
  2. Attract beneficial insects. Pollinators like bees and ladybugs can use a little encouragement to visit vegetable gardens and pollinate the crops. Gardeners often plant attractive plants like borage flowers to encourage pollinators to visit.
  3. Improve soil nutrients. When crops grow, they take up valuable nutrients from the soil—leaving the gardener to do a lot of work at the end of the season to renew the soil’s nutrients. However, there are many companion plants (like bush beans and pole beans) that add nutrients like nitrogen back into the soil, helping keep other plants healthy and well-fed.
  4. Encourage faster growth and better taste. Many companion plants (like marjoram, chamomile, and summer savory) release specific chemicals that encourage faster growth or better taste in the plants around them, leading to quicker and better harvests for home gardeners.
  5. Provide ground cover. Plants that spread low across the ground (like oregano) serve as a blanket over the soil, protecting it from the sun and keeping it cooler for plants that need it.
  6. Provide necessary shade. Plants that grow tall and leafy (like zucchini and asparagus) can provide welcome shade for sun-sensitive plants beneath them.
  7. Serve as markers. When growing slow-growing plants, it can be difficult to tell where the rows will be while you’re waiting for the seeds to sprout. Gardeners often use fast-growing plants (like radishes) interspersed with the slow growers in their rows to delineate where the slow growers will be.
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5 Companion Plants to Grow With Sage

As a companion plant, sage provides many benefits and deters pests. If allowed to flower, sage attracts pollinators. Since sage can grow into a bush, it's great as a border for veggie beds.

  1. Brassicas: Plant sage near cabbage family members including broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, and kohlrabi. Sage repels cabbage moths, cabbage loopers, cabbage maggots, cabbage worms, and black flea beetles, all of which attack brassicas.
  2. Carrots: Sage repels carrot rust flies.
  3. Strawberries: Sage can help deter pests and enhance strawberry flavor.
  4. Tomatoes: Sage repels flea beetles and attracts beneficial insects to tomato plants. If spider mites are your main issue with tomatoes, pair sage with cilantro or dill, which repel spider mites. For tomatoes plagued by tomato hornworm, try calendula or borage, which repel that pest without harming sage.
  5. Rosemary: Sage is one of the few herbs that grow well with rosemary. Try planting sage and rosemary together for a pungent herb garden.

5 Plants to Avoid Growing With Sage

Sage does have some gardening enemies. For the healthiest garden, keep sage away from:

  1. Cucumbers: Sage and other aromatic herbs can stunt cucumbers’ growth (oregano is the exception). Instead, pair cucumbers with catnip, chives, dill, marigolds, radishes, tansy, or nasturtiums, all of which deter cucumber beetles and squash bugs.
  2. Alliums: Onions, leeks, garlic, shallots, and chives prefer moist soil, which won't work for sage. If you're looking for an herb to plant near onions, try summer savory or chamomile.
  3. Rue: Common rue should not be planted near sage in the herb garden, as it inhibits sage’s growth. Rue should also be kept away from cabbage and basil. Rue does, however, deter cucumber beetles, and it enhances the growth of fig trees.
  4. Wormwood: Wormwood is an herb that is useful for warding off whiteflies, but it can harm sage. Nasturtiums are a sage-friendly alternative for controlling whiteflies.
  5. Fennel: Fennel is allelopathic to most plants including sage—meaning that it can stunt growth or cause plants to flower too early.

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